NZ Road Race Championships
Athletics New Zealand Road Championships, Bruce Pulman Park Takanini – 7 November 2020
Matt Baxter, with a catch-me-if-you-can tactic, led throughout the five laps to convincingly win his first national senior road title in 30:22, excellent running for the conditions.
Baxter, who is usually in the States at this time of the year, was pleased to win the title, adding it to the national junior road title he won in 2012.
He led early into the headwind and made a break, leaving defending champion Aaron Pulford to battle out the other two medals with Eric Speakman. Pulford claimed the silver in 31:23, 16 seconds ahead of Speakman. Baxter said that he went out a bit harder than he had planned. “My plan was to be a little more conservative over the first lap and then the idea was to feel it out and see where the field was at and pick it up from there. “I went out a little bit too hard, the time didn’t look bad but considering the wind it made it really rough.
“I progressively got slower from there. It was a hard effort the whole way and I really had to work for that one,” said Baxter.
Pulford found it tough going. “Tough conditions and Matt’s a tough competitor, he’s world class. “He went out pretty fast and I went with him early and then I just basically had to maintain a gap between me and Eric, but never give up on chasing Matt. “It was a good race but a really tough course,” said Pulford.
Camille Buscomb also found it hard going, but was delighted to make it her eleventh New Zealand title. “I’m really excited to get the title. “It was hard, I didn’t feel great from the start. It was very hot and humid and that didn’t help the race. “I had plenty of runners to work with but it’s so windy even being behind them, so somehow it was still really windy. And when you do get a tail wind it’s so hot. “I had to try really hard, I didn’t feel good, but we got there and we did it,” said a relieved Buscomb. Buscomb had her own personal duel in the race with Canterbury runner Thomas Richards. “I ran with him in the Canterbury championships and I beat him there but today he beat me. He ran really well and I couldn’t keep up today.”
In the Canterbury champs Buscomb ran 32:45, three seconds faster than Richards, and at Bruce Pulman Park Richards finished ten seconds ahead. Rebekah Greene (Otago) was second in 37:01 and Kelly Parlane third in 38:15.
Will Anthony set a New Zealand under 18 6km record with a decisive victory over Zane Powell in 18:35. Anthony said he had to take into consideration the windy conditions and the distance of the race. “So I went out hard from the start and held it at three minute km’s. I started well but then dropped off a bit but I was pretty happy how it went.” Anthony added that he will be doing the 3000m and the road race at the national secondary schools champs. Anthony clipped one second off Andres Hernandez’s record set in winning the race at Takanini last year.
Powell was second in 19:24 and Luke Clements third in 19:29.
Alana Barber had the senior 20km walking race to herself, pacing through for her third 20km title in 1:40:44. “It was my first 20km race for a long time, so it was nice to get that feel of what a race feels like and I think it will help the next three months of really important training,” said Barber. “It wasn’t a fantastic time but I wasn’t expecting a fantastic time as that’s where I’m at right now. “The corners were really tight and as the race progressed it gets harder and harder and it’s a real effort to turn your body around and that was tough.” Barber added that there’s a training camp in Nelson in December which will be really beneficial for her and the other leading walkers in New Zealand.
Alexander Brown (19) won the senior 20km walk title. The Otago competitor, who won silver in both the 3000m and 10,000m track walks at the national championships in March, recorded a time of 1:58:22. Lucas Martin was over the moon with his performance in the under 18 5km walk, resulting in a clean sweep of setting fresh national age group records. Martin was in second for most of the way behind Daniel Du Toit, but nearing the finish Du Toit was disqualified and Martin was suddenly winning. He finished totally spent in 23:46, carving 1:40 off Du Toit’s New Zealand under 17, 18, 19 and 20 record. Martin has a faster unofficial time of 23:03 from a race in New Plymouth in August. “I’m very sad for Daniel that he got DQ’d but I’m pleased that I picked up the New Zealand records. Even though I was dying inside, I was happy on the outside,” said Martin. “I’ve been walking for two years, so I’m fairly new into the sport.” Unlike most walkers who come into race walking from a running background, Martin has been involved since his first taste of heel and toe. “I came into walking by coincidence, there’s a little fun race in Whanganui in March and the walk is first on the programme and as I got there early I decided to do the walk, and the rest is history,” he said. Martin uses a programme from Bart Jones, but he also gets help from Alec McNab with training sessions and what to do during the week.
Other winners in the walks include, Quinn Gardiner-Hall under 16 5km, Richie Trathen under 14 3km, Heather McLean masters 10km, Antonia Martin under 18 5km, Alana Mathews under 16 5km and Molly O’Reilly under 14 3km.
Hannah Gapes was just nine seconds outside Mikayla Nielsen’s national age group record in the under 18 5km which she won in 17:27. Lauren Williams was second and Amelia Green third.
Under 20 winners were Liam Lamb and Maya Irving. Christian De Vaal had no trouble securing the under 16 4km and Bella Earl was equally impressive in her under 16 4km.
Sjors Corporaal led in the masters 10km in 33:20 and Sally Gibbs was the outright winner in the master women 5km in 19:45.
Boh Ritchie held out Amy Hurly by one second to win the under 14 girls 3km in 10:24 and Jack Erikson was a class above the rest in the under 14 boys 3km in 9:49.